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Congress Asserts Desire to Prevent Shutdown, Yet House and Senate Drift Further Apart

by Ethan Kim
10 comments
Government Shutdown

Congress finds itself deeply split over divergent approaches to averting a federal government shutdown. While the Senate is making progress on a bipartisan package designed for short-term government funding, the House is laboring through an effort that seems unlikely to be concluded by the impending Saturday deadline.

The time-sensitive situation elevates the risks associated with a lack of consensus, as a federal shutdown would have dire consequences. It would result in the furlough of millions of federal workers, withhold pay from the military, interrupt air travel, and suspend essential social services—posing a political liability for the legislators responsible for government funding.

Earlier this year, President Joe Biden reached a budget agreement with Speaker Kevin McCarthy, which subsequently became law. The President believes that it is now incumbent upon House Republicans to uphold their end of the bargain.

Government Shutdown: Further Context

  • Federal employees brace for the potential of yet another shutdown.
  • The looming shutdown’s implications: who will be affected and what comes next?
  • Speaker McCarthy struggles to pass a stopgap funding bill, as alternative options are considered.

“The responsibility lies with them to resolve this,” said White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

On late Tuesday, the Senate took significant steps to resolve the deadlock by advancing a temporary Continuing Resolution (CR) that would keep the government operational through November 17. This would maintain current funding levels and allocate an additional $6 billion for Ukraine and U.S. disaster relief among other items. Although it is slated for Senate approval, the measure faces significant challenges in the House.

Speaker McCarthy, influenced by a conservative faction that opposes his earlier agreement with Biden and demands significant spending reductions, showed no enthusiasm for the Senate’s bipartisan proposal. Instead, he is reviving the House Republicans’ own temporary funding plan, which proposes an 8% cut in federal spending for various agencies and includes stringent border security measures. The proposal is set for a Friday vote, but its extreme measures have garnered criticism from President Biden, Democrats, and even some Republicans.

McCarthy is attempting to push Biden into negotiations over the border security package, citing high numbers of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. However, his leverage is limited, and the White House has downplayed the possibility of discussions.

Difficult Tasks Ahead for the House

McCarthy is expected to spend a significant portion of this week working on passing necessary bills for funding government departments like Defense, Homeland Security, Agriculture, and State and Foreign Operations. Despite advancing these bills after days of setbacks, it remains unclear if McCarthy has the required support from his conservative faction to pass these measures within the week.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a key conservative holdout, voted against advancing the package, stating that the bills are headed for defeat anyway and aiming to prevent wasted time.

The Senate’s 79-page bill aims to sustain current government funding levels and includes aid for Ukraine and the U.S., which has been under threat. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer praised the bipartisan Senate effort, stating that a government shutdown would be “devastating” for the United States.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell expressed his support for the bipartisan Senate proposal, cautioning that government shutdowns are detrimental. Meanwhile, former President Donald Trump is encouraging House Republicans to either fight adamantly or embrace a shutdown, further deepening the divide within Congress.

As House Republicans prepare for their first impeachment inquiry hearing against Biden this week, former Trump officials contemplate plans to significantly cut government spending and the federal workforce should Trump regain the presidency.

McCarthy, who spoke to McConnell on Tuesday, dismissed Trump’s influence as a mere negotiation strategy, even as conservative members continue to undermine his efforts. Despite the House’s narrow majority, the conservative faction wields considerable power, demanding more concessions, including a reduction in funding for Ukraine, which Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has deemed essential for combatting Russian aggression.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, a leading conservative voice, expressed that a shutdown is not ideal but is preferable to continuing the current financial trajectory, which he believes leads to America’s financial downfall.

The legislative impasse suggests a long and complex process ahead, even if the House manages to pass some of the required funding bills this week, which remains uncertain. These bills would still need to be reconciled with the Senate’s version, further prolonging an already tedious legislative process.

___ Contributing to this report are Big Big News writers Kevin Freking, Mary Clare Jalonick, Farnoush Amiri, and Josh Boak.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Federal Shutdown

What is the main issue causing the division in Congress?

The main issue causing division in Congress is the approach to averting a federal government shutdown. The Senate is advancing a bipartisan temporary funding plan, while the House is pursuing its own funding measure that many consider too extreme and unlikely to pass before the deadline.

What are the consequences of a federal shutdown?

A federal shutdown would result in the furlough of millions of federal employees, withhold pay from the military, interrupt air travel, and suspend essential social services. It would also pose a political liability for the legislators who are responsible for funding the government.

What is the position of President Joe Biden on this issue?

President Joe Biden had earlier reached a budget agreement with Speaker Kevin McCarthy, which subsequently became law. Biden believes that it is now incumbent upon House Republicans to uphold their end of the agreement to prevent a shutdown.

What is the Senate’s proposal for avoiding a shutdown?

The Senate is advancing a temporary measure, known as a Continuing Resolution (CR), to keep the government operational through November 17. This would maintain current funding levels and allocate an additional $6 billion for Ukraine and $6 billion for U.S. disaster relief, among other items.

What is the House’s stance on the Senate’s bipartisan proposal?

Speaker Kevin McCarthy, influenced by a conservative faction that opposes his earlier agreement with Biden, shows no enthusiasm for the Senate’s bipartisan proposal. Instead, he is reviving the House Republicans’ own temporary funding plan that includes an 8% cut in federal spending for various agencies and stringent border security measures.

What role is former President Donald Trump playing in this situation?

Former President Donald Trump is encouraging hard-right House Republicans to either fight adamantly against the Senate’s bipartisan plan or embrace a federal shutdown, adding further complications to an already divided Congress.

What are the plans of House Republicans in the upcoming week?

House Republicans, led by Speaker McCarthy, are expected to spend a significant part of the week attempting to pass necessary funding bills for various government departments such as Defense, Homeland Security, Agriculture, and State and Foreign Operations. However, it remains uncertain if they have the required support from their conservative faction to pass these measures.

More about Federal Shutdown

  • Understanding the U.S. Federal Budget Process
  • What is a Continuing Resolution?
  • The Economic Impact of Government Shutdowns
  • Bipartisanship in the U.S. Senate
  • The Role of the Speaker of the House in the U.S. Congress
  • Consequences of a U.S. Government Shutdown: A Historical Overview
  • President Biden’s Budget Proposals and Legislative History
  • The Influence of Former President Donald Trump on Current Politics

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10 comments

Karen White September 27, 2023 - 8:31 am

It’s always the same story, isn’t it? They all claim to want what’s best for the country, but when it comes down to it, it’s just politics as usual.

Reply
Emily Clark September 27, 2023 - 11:14 am

Isn’t it ironic? The people who are supposed to keep the government running can’t even agree on how to keep it running. What a mess.

Reply
Tony Baker September 27, 2023 - 4:06 pm

So if the Senate and the House can’t agree, what happens next? More chaos?

Reply
Peter Hill September 27, 2023 - 6:31 pm

they’re playing with fire here. a federal shutdown has real consequences for everyday people.

Reply
Sarah Williams September 27, 2023 - 8:17 pm

So the Senate actually managed to come up with a bipartisan plan? That’s a shocker! But what’s the point if the House isn’t on board.

Reply
Dave Allen September 28, 2023 - 12:53 am

Trump’s still influencing politics from the sidelines. can’t say I’m surprised but wonder what his end game is.

Reply
Laura Green September 28, 2023 - 1:42 am

The federal shutdown would be catastrophic. Why can’t our politicians see that and act for the greater good?

Reply
John Smith September 28, 2023 - 2:32 am

Wow, can’t believe Congress is still so divided. A shutdown hurts us, the people, not them. They need to get their act together!

Reply
Mike Johnson September 28, 2023 - 3:50 am

I don’t get it, Biden and McCarthy had a deal. Why’s the House acting like they can just ignore that? Politics as usual, I guess.

Reply
Rachel Adams September 28, 2023 - 5:29 am

McCarthy seems like he’s in a tough spot, caught between Biden and hard-right Republicans. Don’t envy him right now.

Reply

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